By Joy Neighbors
Dateline: Summer 1910 - 1916
|Baseball Diamond Inside Track|
Around the turn of the 20th century, baseball was gaining in popularity. Lee Sinclair always made sure that his West Baden Springs Hotel stayed up with the times, so the introduction of a baseball diamond inside the new double decker bicycle track was right on target. Sinclair had the field illuminated with electric lights for evening games, making it the perfect place for major league teams to practice, and practice they did. Professional teams that played at West Baden included the St. Louis Cardinals, Detroit Tigers, Milwaukee Brewers and the Indianapolis ABCs.
|West Baden Sprudels|
But Sinclair didn’t wait for major league teams come to town to entertain guests; he made sure his hotel had its own semi-professional baseball team, the West Baden Sprudels; a team that could give the professionals “a run for their money.”
C.I. Taylor was considered one of the two greatest baseball managers of all time - someone who brought out the best in his players. He began his career in 1904 as a player/manger with the Birmingham Giants before becoming manager of the West Baden Sprudels in 1910. He managed the resort’s baseball team until 1913 when he moved part of the club (mainly his brothers) to Indy to become the Indianapolis ABCs in 1914. When the Negro National League was formed in 1920, Taylor was installed as the league’s vice president; a position he served in until his death in 1922.
|"Steel Arm" John Taylor|
From 1910 – 1916, the Sprudels played a total of 141 games, winning 59, losing 79 and tied for three. The team did not win any league pennants or World Series games. From 1910 – 1915, the closest the team placed in the Western Independent Clubs was 4th in 1911 and 1914.
The most famous players for the team were:
Morten Clark – Shortstop (1910, 1912-1913)
Elwood “Bingo” DeMoss – 2nd Baseman (1912, 1914)
William “Iron Man” Dismukes – Picher (1910 – 1913)
George “Chappie” Johnson – Catcher, 1st baseman, manager (1915)
Ben Taylor – 1st basemen (1910, 1912-1913) Youngest of the Taylor brothers
“Candy” Jim Taylor – 3rd baseman (1915) Next to youngest Taylor brother
George “Rabbit” Shively – Left fielder (1911 – 1913)
Andrew “String Bean” Williams – Pitcher (1910, 1913 – 1914)
Although the hotel had had a baseball team since the late 1890s, the semi-professional Sprudels put West Baden on the “sports map” for several years. Guests, and locals, enjoyed visiting the resort and catching a game, night or day, with the chance to cheer on their favorite team - the West Baden Sprudels.